Sunday, 21 December 2008

Lillian Ladelle

The EAT has released its judgement overturning the Employment Tribunal victory won by Christian Registrar Lillian Ladelle. The judgement makes interesting reading though what is lamentable is that the EAT (Mr Justice Elias, who also decided the case of Nadia Eweida) seemed incapable of understanding the distinction between a question of conscience and Discrimination, it did not even attempt to grapple with the issue of moral complicity in an immoral act. In addition the EAT totally ignored or side stepped the fact that not one single Gay couple were affected by Lillians wish to only deal with Heterosexual marriages, no Gay partnership was canceled, delayed or in any way affected by her it was merely that Islington were not prepared to show her the "tolerance" which is hypocritically proclaimed as the modern virtue of the diversity industry,(we want to celebrate your diversity provided that you think the same as us !)

Since I am going on holiday I will discuss the judgement in more detail in the New Year but I do have to express my astonishment and disquiet over the role of the organisation Liberty in the Ladelle case. Liberty chose to enter the Ladelle case as an "intervenor" ie it did not have to become involved but it specifically chose to do so and one has to ask why ? Liberty exists to protect Human Rights and freedoms yet it specifically chose to intervene in the Ladelle case in order to argue against Lillian Ladelle's Religious Freedom. It chose to put forward arguments to restrict religious rights in the workplace and in particular to restrict the right to Freedom of Religion enshrined in Article 9 of the European Convention, in fact Article 9 must be the only Human Right Liberty has gone out of its way to restrict and reduce.

More worryingly Liberty made a big issue of representing Sikh school girl Sakira Singh with her claim against her school for the right to wear the Kara bracelet. In that case Liberty argued that it was OK for a School to allow a Sikh to wear a Kara whilst still forbidding Christian Girls from wearing a cross. It does seem that Liberty is in favour of Religious rights but not for Christians, it also seems that the law is willing to protect the cultural manifestations of Religion such as Hijabs, Turbans, Kara's but is not willing to protect fundamental moral principles.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Dogru v France - End of the Veil Wars ?

Have just added to a link to the case of Dogru v France BAILII: [2008] ECHR 1579 where the European Court of Human Rights finally got the chance to examine the so called French 'Hijab Ban'. The law of 2004 does not just ban the Hijab, of course, it bans the display of any "conspicuous" religious symbol in French Schools but, as is made clear in paras 17 - 32 of the judgement the primary purpose of the French Law of 2004 was to prevent the wearing of the Hijab.

In overall terms the decision in Dogru is predictable based on the Courts' earlier decisions in Sahin v Turkey
and Dahlab v Switzerland

The fact that the ECtHR has backed the French Ban along with the Courts refusal in MANN SINGH v. FRANCE to support a French Sikh who wanted to wear his Turban in his Driving Licence photo makes it clear that the ECtHR is giving the most restricted interpretation possible to Article 9.

All of these case make it crystal clear that the ECtHR has interpreted Article 9 of the ECHR in a way that provides absolutely no protection for religious rights connected with the wearing of religious dress. What is even more worrying is that the logic used in these cases all relies on the courts own, very subjective, view as to what is 'necessary in a Democratic Society' Article 9.2. In Article 9 cases the ECtHR seems to consistently assume that because a Governmental department wants something it thereby becomes 'necessary' as opposed to merely being 'desirable. Certainly the test applied by the ECtHR in defining what is 'necessary in a democratic society', Article 9.2, is put by the Court at a worryingly low level.